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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.[1] Its headquarters are located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was under the leadership of president Myles Brand until his death on September 16, 2009 from pancreatic cancer.[2]

In August 1973, the current three-division setup of Division I, Division II, and Division III was adopted by the NCAA membership in a special convention. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III schools may not offer any athletic scholarships. Generally, larger schools compete in Division I and smaller schools in II and III. Division I football was further divided into I-A and I-AA in 1978. Subsequently the term "Division I-AAA" was added to delineate Division I schools which do not field a football program at all.[3] In 2006, Divisions I-A and I-AA were respectively renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).


The NCAA's predecessor, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS), was established on March 31, 1906 to set rules for amateur sports in the United States. When then-president Theodore Roosevelt's own son, Ted, broke his collar bone playing football at Harvard, Roosevelt became aware of the growing number of serious injuries and deaths occurring in collegiate football. He brought the presidents of five major institutions, Army, Navy, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to several meetings at the White House in October 1905 to discuss steps to make college athletics safer.[4] The IAAUS was created as an outcome of those meetings and became the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1910.

Until the 1980s, the association did not offer women's athletics. Instead an organization named the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) governed women's collegiate sports in the United States. By 1982, however, all divisions of the NCAA offered national championship events for women's athletics and most members of the AIAW joined the NCAA.


The modern era of the NCAA began in July 1952 when its executive director, Kansas City, Missouri native Walter Byers, moved the organization's headquarters from the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago (where its offices were shared by the headquarters of the Big Ten Conference) to the Fairmount Building at 101 West 11th Street in Downtown Kansas City. The move was intended to separate the NCAA from direct influence of any individual conference and to keep it centrally located.

The Fairfax was a block from Municipal Auditorium which had hosted Final Four games in 1940, 1941 and 1942.

After Byers moved to Kansas City, the championships would be held in Municipal in 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1961, 1964.

The Fairfax office consisted of three rooms with no air conditioning. Byers' staff consisted of four people (an assistant, two secretaries and a bookkeeper).[5]

In 1964 it moved three blocks away to offices in the Midland Theatre.

In 1973 it moved to 6299 Nall at Shawnee Mission Parkway in suburban Mission, Kansas in a $1.2 million building on 3.4 acres.

In 1989 it moved six miles further south into the suburbs to 6201 College Boulevard in Overland Park, Kansas. The new building was on 11.35 acres and had 130,000 square feet of space.[6]

The NCAA was dissatisfied with its Johnson County, Kansas suburban location noting that its location on the south edges of the Kansas City suburbs was more than 40 minutes from Kansas City International Airport. They also noted that the suburban location was not drawing visitors to its new visitors' centre.[7]

In 1997 it asked for bids for a new headquarters.

Various cities competed for a new headquarters with the two finalists being Kansas City and Indianapolis.

Kansas City proposed to relocate the NCAA back downtown near the Crown Center complex and would locate the visitors' centre in Union Station. However Kansas City's main sports venue Kemper Arena was nearly 30 years old.[7]

Indianapolis argued that it was in fact more central than Kansas City in that two thirds of the members are east of the Mississippi River.[7]

Further the 50,000-seat RCA Dome far eclipsed the 17,000-seat Kemper.

In 1999 the NCAA moved its 300 member staff to its new headquarters in the White River State Park in a four-story, facility on the west edge of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Adjacent to the headquarters is the NCAA Hall of Champions.[8]


The NCAA's legislative structure is broken down into cabinets and committees, consisting of various representatives of its member schools. These may be broken down further into sub-committees. Legislation is then passed on to the Management Council, which oversees all the cabinets and committees, and also includes representatives from the schools, such as athletic directors and faculty advisors. Management Council legislation goes on to the Board of Directors, which consists of school presidents, for final approval.

The NCAA staff itself provides support, acting as guides, liaison, research and public and media relations. Former Indiana University president Myles Brand was the most recent head of the NCAA. In the wake of his death, executives with the organization will oversee day-to-day operations until the Executive Committee names Brand's successor.[9]

The NCAA is not the only collegiate athletic organization in the United States. Several other such organizations exist, with the largest being the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Canadian equivalent to NCAA is the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).

Presidents of NCAA (called executive director until 1998)[]

  • Walter Byers 1951–1988
  • Dick Schultz 1988–1993
  • Cedric Dempsey 1993–2002
  • Myles Brand 2003–2009
  • Jim Isch (interim) 2009–[10]


Division history[]

Years Division
1906-1955 None
1956-1972 NCAA University Division (Major College), NCAA College Division (Small College)
1973-present NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III


Division I conferences[]

Foreign intercollegiate/interuniversity equivalents[]

  • International University Sports Federation
  • Australian University Sport
  • British Universities & Colleges Sport
  • Canadian Interuniversity Sport
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (Philippines) (NCAA) and University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) for Philippines (among other leagues)